Are you suffering from Knee pain? And want to know how to stop knee pain? Knee pain is a common issue that affects many people, no matter how young or old. It could result from injuries like torn cartilage or ruptured ligaments, or it could also be caused by medical conditions such as gout, arthritis, and infections.
A lot of minor knee pains respond to simple self-care routines. Also, physical therapy and wearing knee braces can help relieve this as well. However, some scenarios in which your knee may require special surgical procedures.
Aside from these, another reason for long-term knee pain is caused by old age. The elderly usually experience long-term knee pain because of osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear-and-tear in the joints.
Whatever the cause of your knee trouble, you need to know how to stop that knee pain. Here we’ll look at the common reasons for knee pain and what you can do about it. Let’s take a look.
Knee Pain Reasons
Your knees are vulnerable joints that experience a great deal of stress daily. The stress in this area is commonly caused by daily activities like kneeling, lifting, and climbing. It’s also caused by heavy-impact activities like aerobics, jogging, and the like. Let’s have a quick refresher on the parts of your knee.
Your knee is at the end of two long-leg bones that are held together by ligaments, muscles, and tendons. It has two groups of muscles including the quadriceps and hamstring.
The quadriceps are muscles located on the front of your thighs and work by straightening your legs. Then, the hamstring muscles are at the back of your thighs that let you bend your leg at the knee.
The tendons are strong tissue cords that link your muscles to your bones. Some ligaments on your knee protect and stabilize the joints, whereas others limit the tibia’s forward and backward movements.
Speaking of the tibia, it’s your lower leg’s shin bone, specifically the larger bone. Along with it, you’ll also find the femur, which is your thigh-bone or the upper leg bone. Then, the patella is your kneecap.
Each of these is covered with a cartilage layer that works by absorbing shock while protecting your knee. Let’s have a closer look at the causes of knee pain.
Old Age and Osteoarthritis
As you get older, chronic knee pain is usually caused by osteoarthritis. It’s the wear-and-tear of arthritis and is the top reason for knee pain after the age of 50.
This causes your knee joints to ache and swell when you’re active. Plus, joints that are affected by this can eventually stiff within the day.
The Menisci and Articular Cartilage
These are tough fibrous tissues between your knee bones that prevent direct bone-on-bone contact. As you age, the menisci get thinner and more brittle, thus becoming more prone to tearing.
When it comes to the articular cartilage, it can also experience the same type of deterioration. Eventually, your cartilage can disappear, which will result in extreme bone-on-bone pain. Once you experience this, you will likely need knee-replacement surgery.
The bursa is a sac that carries a little amount of fluid from beneath the skin up to the skin above your joints. It prevents friction whenever your joints move. When it gets overused, if you fall, or tend to repeatedly bend and kneel, you can greatly irritate this area. Doing so will cause swelling and pain which is called prepatellar bursitis or “preacher’s knee”.
It means that your kneecap has slipped out of its normal position, which causes knee pain and swelling. Doctors also called this patellar dislocation.
(IT) Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The IT band is a portion of a tough tissue on your hip. From here, it runs all the way down to the outer portion of your knee. When overworked, it can get inflamed over time and will cause pain to the outer section of your knee. This is a common issue among runners when they go downhill.
There are times when knee injuries can lead to the ripping of your cartilage. When it happens, the rough edges end up stuck in the joints, causing pain and swelling. Often, people get the feeling of “catching” in their joints when active.
This happens to the younger ones when their bones and other parts of their knees are still developing. It’s a disease that causes painful bumps below the knees where a tendon on the kneecap links to the shin.
Overdoing exercises or when an irritation at the base of your knee (tibial tubercle) occurs, causes pain in the area. Over time, the pain can just come and go, plus it’s extremely common in teenage girls and boys.
This is an inflammation in your tendon that links the kneecap to your shinbone. Tendons are the tough tissue bands linking muscles to the bones. When you overexert yourself during exercise, this area can get sore and inflamed. This problem is also called the jumper’s knee since repetitive jumping is the usual cause.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
This condition is often caused by muscle imbalance, alignment, and tightness problems of the legs. It causes knee pain and the occasional “buckling” where your knee suddenly can’t handle your weight. This isn’t caused by injuries, and it’s more common in women than in men.
How to Prevent Knee Pain in Old Age
Knee pain can get extremely troublesome, especially for the elderly. So, we’ve come up with a list that will help prevent them from having knee pains.
Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet
Inflammation is known to damage joints. And interestingly, your daily diet plays a very important role in the levels of inflammation that’s present in your body.
Processed food is usually made from sugar and white flour, thus making them a major culprit of inflammation. A diet that’s high in dairy, meat, and eggs can also lead to inflammation.
To avoid knee pain, it’s best to go for an anti-inflammatory, plant-based diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains. The diet should also include some fish, and you should drink eight glasses of water a day as well. Specific anti-inflammatory foods include garlic, onions, leeks, and shallots.
A couple of studies also show that a daily drink of small amounts of pomegranate juice can decrease inflammation. Plus, it also decreases a bit of your joint pain in about three months. That’s because pomegranate juice has ellagic acid, which is a natural anti-inflammatory.
Taking cod liver oil is a good way to prevent knee pain. Studies show that a 1,000mg capsule of this supplement can decrease harmful enzymes known for damaging your joint’s cartilage.
Remember, your cartilage is vital in preventing bones from rubbing against each other. If this occurs, joint replacement may be necessary.
There are also a number of studies that show SAM-e or S-adenosylmethionine, is a supplement that reduces joint inflammation. Also, it’s said to repair your cartilage in some instances.
There’s also diallyl disulfide, an allium component like garlic and onions. These may also help in protecting joints.
There are other natural supplements you can find in a lot of health food shops and pharmacies. These include tart cherry juice, turmeric, Boswellia (from African and Asian-grown trees), and bromelain (from pineapples).
Maintain a healthy weight
Your weight adds more stress to your joints, especially on your knees when you walk and stand. And if you’re overweight or obese, there’s a higher chance of damaging the cartilage between your joints. This results in more joint pain.
Remember that for every extra pound you have, you’re putting around four additional pounds of pressure on your knee joints. So if you’re 10 pounds heavier, you’re adding 40 pounds of extra pressure to your knees. Then, if you’re 50 pounds overweight, you’re adding 200 pounds of pressure.
So if you walk around a lot daily, it’s easy to understand why your knees are wearing out. This is the reason why losing weight and maintaining a healthy diet is a vital factor in preserving your knees.
Use targeted exercises to build muscle
Moderate exercise is the best way to help protect and preserve your knees. Building and strengthening the muscles around the area helps decrease stress on your joints. Here, your middle, outer, and inner thigh muscles, as well as your calf muscles, help support your knees.
If you’re a senior and wondering how or where to build muscle, try checking out your local gym. They could be offering exercise classes with pro instructors trained to work with people who are over 50 years of age.
Another great way to build muscle is by taking water aerobics since it’s a non-weight-bearing form of exercise, but if you prefer working out on your own, that’s alright. Check with a trainer with adequate expertise and experience working with the exercise needs of seniors.
Before going for muscle-building exercises!
During your next physical examination, ask your doctor to check and determine your leg and knee strength. If you’re weak, you can go for physical therapy to help strengthen and improve your muscles. From here, your therapist can provide you with a list of beneficial knee exercises.
If you still do sports, ensure caution when playing sports that require you to abruptly stop, start, and pivot. Such sports include football and basketball.
Stay active every day
To avoid stiffness and muscle atrophy, engage in physical activities which also help protect the knees from possible injuries. Also, remember to mix up your exercise routines to avoid straining yourself.
Movements that put repetitive and continuous stress on the knees can increase the chances of you developing further knee problems.
Wear proper shoes
Surprisingly, your foot size increases as you age. It’s best to check your shoes to ensure that it’s still the right size, and that it doesn’t pinch your toes.
Plus, ensure that you have enough space across the top of your shoes. You need to be able to move your toes comfortably when wearing your shoes.
If you’re a woman who used to wear high heels for years, you’re likely to experience knee pain. When wearing these, your heels are elevated instead of staying flat. So, your quadriceps strain to balance and keep your knees in line.
It’s best to avoid wearing heels as a senior. Instead, go for flats to lessen the strain on your knees and legs. Another good tip you can follow is to go barefoot when you’re at home. It reduces the stress on your knees.
Knee Pain Relief Exercises
Research has proven that the following exercises reduce knee pain. The first four are perfect for seniors with the last two ideal for those with better mobility.
This type of knee-strengthening exercise is the easiest one for seniors. It helps strengthen your knees to improve your balance and ability to stand.
The first step is to sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Then, straighten out your right knee and make sure to hold the position for a few seconds. After, straighten out your left knee and hold for a few seconds as well. Repeat these steps 10 times on each leg.
These can help strengthen and improve your knees and upper legs. It’s a simple physiotherapy exercise that you can do at the edge of your bed or chair. First, sit at the edge of your bed/chair then cross your ankles. Make sure to put your right leg on top.
Move your back leg forward then press your right leg back to go against it. Doing this should make the thigh muscles contract. Then, look straight ahead and keep this position for at least 10 seconds. After, switch your leg positioning then repeat the process. Perform this exercise on each leg, four times.
This helps improve your knee limber while letting you do light cardio exercises. You can easily perform this at the base of your staircase or if you have an aerobic stepper, you can go for that instead.
Seniors usually have balance problems, so it’s best to keep your stepper close to a wall or chair to help with your balance. In case you’re doing this on stairs, it’s best to firmly hold the railing to avoid falling.
To do this, first stand in a straight line, and make sure to face your stepper or stairs. Then, breathe in while moving your right leg on the first step.
After, move your left leg up to the step. Hold the position for one to two seconds then breathe out when stepping down with your right foot. Then follow it with your left. Perform the exercise 10 times.
This type of exercise can improve your walking and can enhance your ability to get up from a chair easily. It can also help strengthen your knees while offering better safety and balance.
The first thing to do is stand facing the back of your chair. Then, set your hands on the chair’s backrest and hold it to keep your balance.
Look straight, exhale, then slowly squat down in a manageable and comfortable position. Now, breathe in as you slowly return to the standing position. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
Lay on your side and bend the knee that’s specifically resting on the surface. This is necessary for better balance. Additionally, support your head with a towel roll or pillow for comfort.
For the opposite knee, straighten this by tightening the muscles on your thigh. Flex your foot to make your toes face forward, then raise your leg towards the ceiling. Your leg shouldn’t be higher than the line of your body.
Pause before putting your leg back down slowly to your starting position.
Lay on your back and use a pillow or towel roll to support your head. Then, bend your knees and keep your feet flat. For your arms, keep them relaxed and laying by your side.
Tighten the muscles of your buttocks, then raise your hips as high as you can towards the ceiling. Be sure that this isn’t causing back pain or excessive pressure. Pause briefly, then slowly lower your hips to the previous position before repeating the process.
What Is the Best Painkiller for Knee Pain?
Naproxen sodium and ibuprofen are some over-the-counter medications that should help. Some people find relief by rubbing the affected area with cream that has a numbing agent like capsaicin or lidocaine.
Tylenol or Ibuprofen – Which Works Better?
There’s evidence showing that oral NSAIDs, specifically ibuprofen, naproxen, and diclofenac, reduce pain more effectively than Tylenol for osteoarthritis. Oral NSAIDs can also work better for reducing stiffness and improving physical functioning compared to Tylenol.
Other than over-the-counter medications, there are also prescription medications for relieving knee pain. These are usually more potent than over-the-counter ones.
This type of medication includes prescription-strength NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors. These are meant to reduce gastrointestinal side effects like stomach bleeding. Additionally, the drugs are mostly used for pain levels that are considered moderate to severe.
Currently, the only COX-2 inhibitor available in the market is celecoxib (Celebrex). Other inhibitors like Rofecoxib (Vioxx) were taken off the market due to discovered increased risks of heart complications.
Knee pain has numerous causes, and while a lot of these can be treated at home, some need medical attention. Be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you notice any of the following:
- Swelling and severe pain
- Deformity or severe bruising
- Symptoms that last longer than a few days or worsen instead of improving
- Symptoms in other body parts
- Other health conditions that could complicate healing
- Signs of infection include fever, knee stiffness, or loosening of the knee joint
When consulting your doctor, you’ll likely undergo a physical examination. From here, the possible tests include blood tests and X-rays.
By seeking medical help, an assessment will help determine what you’re dealing with. From there, your doctor will let you know the problem.
Once you know the cause of your knee pain, you’ll be able to find ways to cure this. And also, this will help prevent further damage.
How do I make my knee pain go away?
The best way to eliminate knee pain is to take a break from your usual activities. This will decrease the strain on the area, especially if the pain is caused by an injury.
You can also use ice to reduce pain and inflammation, or heat which gives temporary pain relief as well.
Another way to get rid of the pain is by compression, which helps stop fluid build-up in damaged tissues. It also helps maintain knee stability and alignment.
How can I overcome knee pain naturally?
Follow RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) treatment. These are good natural ways to manage knee pain caused by an arthritis flare or a minor injury.
Give your knee some rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, use a compression bandage, and then elevate your knee. Also, never overlook your weight since this is one of the major factors that affect knee pain.
Another natural method is alternative medicine like acupuncture. This ancient Chinese medical treatment involves inserting thin needles into your body. The procedure restores your body’s balance and reroutes energy.
How to relieve knee pain at night
To relieve knee pain at night, use a cushion to support your knees. Other things you can try are taking a warm bath and massaging your knee.
Also, try to stay active during the day by exercising and stretching regularly to manage knee pain. This will also help you fall asleep faster at night.